Quality Margin

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I can easily lose myself in the list of things I think I have to do. Have you ever had those days where you've completed your mile long list and still question what you actually did during the day? Quality over quantity is what I'm talking about today.

My current situation is that I'm raising three teenagers who have very different social calendars. It feels like I'm in my car more than my feet are on the ground. When my kids were little, I was the social coordinator. I had control over playdates, birthday parties, shopping trips and the beloved nap time. I could choose to have an entire day dedicated to pajamas and Elmo if I wanted, now, I'm an Uber driver without the paycheck.

There are seasons of life when our schedules are dictated by our circumstances and we have very little control over opportunities for helping others or ourselves. Which is why we need to be really intentional about how we plan our time. If our minutes are planned from sun up to sun down, we miss opportunities set-up by the Holy Spirit and we may have to make some hard decisions.

I switched over to a weekly paper planner recently and it made a huge impact in the way I handled my routine. I feel more accomplished at the end of the day and find myself more inline with God's plan.

Making this tiny change has allowed me to stop scheduling myself into a corner. Using a weekly planner created flexibility for more margin like self-care days, coffee dates with friends and unexpected appointments. I want to share some benefits I discovered using a weekly planner format.

It's Easier to Prioritize my Tasks.

Everything that needs my attention for the week is prioritized by day. If I don't complete a certain task on Monday, I simply move that task to Tuesday or another day when I can complete it. I have to give myself grace and time to finish tasks, this is how I function best.

When I find myself rescheduling a task or ignoring it, I have to evaluate why I'm avoiding that particular task. It's usually one of two things:

  1. It's actually not a task I need to complete.
  2. It's a task that I don't want to complete.

Either way, I take a closer look and make a decision to drop it or conquer it.

I'm working Smarter, not harder.

Using a weekly format only allows for the really important stuff to go on the calendar. This is where quality is key and quantity just makes me busy. I only focus on what I can do and should do for the day.

I give myself a couple of hours to focus on each task (depending on the size of the task, of course) and then move on to the next item of the day. If a task is taking longer than the time I've allotted, I break it up (keep reading for an example below!) This concept can be applied to anything that threatens to consume my time without flexibility.

Here is my example, writing a blog post takes me a looooong time. I used to schedule myself a whole day dedicated to writing a single blog post (really bad idea). I believed that if I just focused hard enough, I could finish it up in one day. I set myself up for big failure and it didn't allow flexibility for sick kiddos, unexpected errands or the dreaded lack of creativity.  Now, I dedicate multiple days to completing a blog post. It looks something like this:

  • Day One: Begin rough draft of blog post (get idea out of my head and onto the computer)
  • Day Two: Fine-Tune blog post (enhance content, ideas and message... sometimes, this means starting over!)
  • Day Three: Edit blog post (grammar and flow)
  • Day Four: Finalize blog post details (photo, title, tags, schedule, etc.)
  • Day Five: Blog post goes live (sigh of relief and plan for next blog post)

Using this approach works so much better for me! I'm not chained to my desk for a whole day stressing to finish a blog post. We all have to find what works best for us. Being a 9 on the Enneagram helped me learn that, slow and steady wins my race.

Bird's Eye View

It's really nice to get an overall picture of my week. Seeing everything at once allows me to have a better idea of my schedule when those nudges come from the Holy Spirit. It's so great to know where I have openings to schedule those treasured connections with friends, necessary self-care days or knowing when I need to push myself a little harder. Life happens and I want to be ready to answer the call <<< Margin.

The weekly planner really fits my mindset and character best right now. I feel less overwhelmed by my schedule, I finish my days more accomplished and I definitely have more freedom to step into margin without feeling wrecked or guilty.

So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself.
Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.
— Matthew 6:34 The Voice